Greg Stewart may have produced a man-of-the-match display against Kilmarnock last week but his boss Paul Hartley has revealed the striker had fretted over his form in pre-season.
The former Cowdenbeath front man was outstanding as the Dark Blues won 4-0 against Killie in Ayrshire, netting two goals and producing some sublime link-up play all over the park.
His performance was all his manager needed to convince him that any fears Stewart may have had over the way he was playing are well and truly over and he is now looking for the 25-year-old to continue to improve as the season progresses.
Hartley said: “Greg was a bit worried in pre-season. He did not feel he was sharp enough. He was getting a bit down on himself. We just told him to forget it and concentrate on the first game of the season.
“I think that is when he is at his best. He has had a great start and he is off the mark but his overall play was just fantastic and I think he will get better.
“He is a player we really admire. From where he came from, within the space of the year everyone knows who he is now. Everyone is talking about him.
“A year or so ago maybe people were a little bit sceptical why are they bringing him in from Cowdenbeath? We have shown there are definitely players in that market. And we will continue to use that market. With Greg, he is outstanding.
“He has definitely improved his defensive side of things. He works up and down the park but when he is on the ball, we enjoy watching him.
“You have to work for us but at the other end we have given the forward guys a real freedom to express themselves. We want to try and entertain, that’s for sure. We want to have good energy about the team and be free-flowing.”
Dundee’s thumping victory over Kilmarnock made the whole of Scottish football sit up and take notice.
However, as the Dark Blues prepare to welcome Hearts to Dens tomorrow, Hartley admitted it will be difficult for his team to reproduce similar stunning performances week in, week out.
When asked if there were big expectations now after the Killie win, he said: “If we don’t perform like that on Saturday, everyone will be like: ‘What has happened to Dundee?’ But we know we cannot play like that every week.
“What we will be looking for in the players is 100 per cent commitment to the club and that jersey. They know they must go out there and work as hard as they can. Overall, I am pleased with the start we have made.”
Hearts also made a winning start to the league campaign, beating St Johnstone 4-3 at Tynecastle on Sunday and former Jambos player Hartley admitted he is delighted the Edinburgh side are back in the Premiership.
He added: “I had a great four years there. It’s a brilliant club with a fantastic support and the league needed to have a strong Hearts coming back in.
“They will probably bring 3000 here on Saturday so it’s what we wanted and they’ll be a great addition to the league.
“I’m delighted to see Hearts back up.”
Dundee have injury doubts over Luka Tankulic, Kosta Gadzhalov and Nicky Low however James McPake returns from suspension.